Alma Bridge – new survey work to plan for the future

Alma BridgeAlma Bridge

Posted on: 8 October 2015

Devon County Council is preparing to undertake survey work in the area around Alma Bridge to explore erosion of the nearby cliffs, after accepting that the bridge is likely to be under threat at some point in the future.

The surveys will provide a base line on which to compare future erosion of the cliff face that protects the bridge. The authority has confirmed that it is looking at a number of options to maintain a link to the South West Coast Path over the River Sid, and it will start monitoring erosion in the surrounding area later this month.

The County Council is committed to supporting the Coast Path, but has always stated it will maintain the crossing at Alma Bridge, provided costs do not become unaffordable and that it is safe for people to use. However, without intervention, the loss of Alma Bridge in its current position is inevitable and Devon, in preparing bridge designs, will have to consider what structure can be used in the future and where it should be located.

In the long-term, a bridge near the mouth of the River Sid needs to be less vulnerable to damage from the sea, and Devon is working with other organisations including East Devon District Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England to find a feasible solution.

Devon County Council, which is a member of East Devon District Council’s Steering Group for its Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan project, is liaising with EDDC project officers so that the projects join-up. The County Council will be attending next week’s Steering Group meeting, where Alma Bridge will be on the agenda. Once the Beach Management Plan has been agreed, it will be used over the coming years to bid for money for its implementation.

If Alma Bridge becomes unsafe and cannot be repaired economically before the plan is put into operation, then the South West Coast Path link can be kept by taking it over the River Sid at the ford using the existing footbridge at the end of Mill Street.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and Flood Prevention, said: “Devon County Council is continuing to monitor the area around Alma Bridge to ensure that the structure continues to be safe to use and the additional survey work will help determine when the bridge may eventually have to close. The County Council remains committed to maintaining a link to the coast path and I’m encouraged to see that options are being explored.

“It is important that we work with all organisations to provide a safe, long term river crossing, and any planned investment has to be sustainable for the long term as well as being a good use of taxpayers money. I hope that East Devon District Council’s Beach Management Plan can be agreed and put into place as soon as possible.”

Posted in: Environment